The internet has been shipping Harry Styles and Timothee Chalamet for months now, so it made perfect sense for i-D magazine to just get the former boy band heartthrob-turned-global-solo-superstar and the Oscar-nominated Beautiful Boy star together for a chat about fame, the meaning of true artistry, their mutual man crushes on director Christopher Nolan and, oh yeah, Harry’s next album.
In a clue as to how intense both men are, Styles opened up with a softball quote from David Bowie, who once said, “Creativity is like wading out into the ocean. You wade out to the point where you can’t touch the bottom, you’re a little scared, and that’s where you do your best work.” Chalamet, of course, could not agree more, parrying back with his own inspirational quote, “‘If someone tells an artist that they’re brave, they’re really telling them that they’re crazy.’ I think that whatever bone gets electrified when I act, there’s always a feeling that I’m a little bit out of my depth or out of control.”
And then they were off, talking about taking artistic risks, learning from your experiences and screw-ups and how Chalamet’s drug-addicted character in Beautiful Boy really stuck with him long after the the cameras shut down. “I think it’s easier to see it that way. It’s comforting for people to give a face to addiction and think it couldn’t affect you, your family or your loved ones,” the actors said to Styles’ question about why addiction continues to be cloaked in such secrecy and shame.
Styles revealed that when he’s filmed video or movie roles he frequently slips in a secret message to friends via necklaces that their kids made or something that they might recognize, a tactic that Chalamet has also employed. He pointed to his break-out role in Call Me By Your Name, in which he got into character by listening to Sufjan Stevens’ “Visions of Gideon” in his earbuds during a pivotal scene.
Harry, of course, had to ask Chalamet if he can still eat peaches after the infamous scene in Name (yes, but “not without thinking about it”), while the two bonded over their close relationships with their families, the journals they keep to help them track the amazing career ride they’re on, staying in the moment and whether there’s pressure to be more political these days.
“I do feel a responsibility though,” said Chalamet, who added that it’s very difficult to navigate social media these days and not get sucked into a negative vortex. “People our age are so much more engaged and I think that’s a good thing.” Styles lamented how divided people are today, which makes him more determined to stand up for what he thinks is right. “I would love for my views to come through in the music I make and the things I do,” said Styles, a big proponent of dipping in and out of social media to stay sane. “That’s a very powerful way that we can use our voices.”
And then, in a story packed with high-gloss pics of Chalamet, the two men got down to the importance of presenting a “new form of masculinity” on screen in their films, one that’s different from the images they saw when they were growing up. “It’s one of the reasons I’m so happy to get on the phone with you because growing up we did have some people to look up to, but it wasn’t as obvious,” Chalamet said, calling out rapper Lil B as someone who has had a huge impact on him “because he blurred those lines as a musician.”
When it comes down to it, though, Chalamet said you can be whoever you want these days, with no rules about “jean size, or muscle shirt, or affectation, or eyebrow raise, or dissolution, or drug use that you have to take part in to be masculine. It’s exciting. It’s a brave new world.” It’s the same for Styles, who was raised with his mother and sister and grown more comfortable with who he is over the past two years, realizing that there’s masculinity in being “vulnerable and allowing yourself to be feminine, and I’m very comfortable with that.”
And, by the time Chalamet got down to talking about his next projects — Little Women with Greta Gerwig, Dune with Denis Villeneuve — Styles opened up about his next musical adventure, revealing that he’s hard at work on his next project. “I’m making my second album right now, so I’m going to do that [making the right choices], read a lot and see what happens,” he said, comparing the rigorously scheduled world of One Direction to the more open-ended process of just working on album #2 until it’s done. “When I got the role in Dunkirk, it happened right at the start of my first album, so I had to stop everything for five months. But stuff like that always happens when it happens, so…I’m enjoying not knowing to be honest.”
The interview wound to a close with Styles admitting that when he started out on his solo adventure he really didn’t know what he was doing. “So I tried to write as much as possible, with as many different people as possible and try and learn as much as I could. I guarantee I wrote a lot of really, really bad shit before I wrote anything good.” It ends with a rapid-fire question from Styles about the one song or movie Chalamet would choose if he could only have one for the rest of his life.
His answers? “Rain” by Kid Cudi and Punch Drunk Love. Styles’ choices were equally intriguing: “Madame George” by Van Morrison and Goodfellas.
Click here to read the full interview.